The pretournament fears of USWNT stars have come true, according to an NBC News report:
“All the tournament’s fields — six surfaces in six cities — are made of turf. Wambach and players from Germany, Brazil and Spain filed a lawsuit in Canada last year that demanded FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association install natural grass in the arenas, but the players said they dropped the suit earlier this year because they had filed it too late and FIFA wouldn’t budge.
“Professional sports like baseball and football are played on forms of turf, and it has also been installed in thousands of playgrounds. In a series of on-air and on-line reports, NBC News investigated the safety of artificial “crumb rubber” turf, and whether the playing surface, which is made of recycled tires, has been adequately tested. A soccer coach in Seattle has been collecting anecdotal information about goalies and other players who played on the surface and now have various forms of cancer, but no research has linked turf to cancer or any other disease.
Turf fields are also much hotter than natural grass fields. The surface at this Saturday’s cup opener in Edmonton, in which Canada beat China 1-0, reportedly reached 120 degrees an hour before kickoff. At Sunday’s games in Ottawa, the field temperature reached 130 degrees.
Wambach calls turf a “gender issue through and through,” and embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who announced his resignation last week, has made controversial comments about female players in the past. He once suggested female soccer players wear “tighter shorts.”